Fern Jenkins' life is changed for ever when her brother is killed in action and her father dies in a mining explosion. Turned out of their home by the ruthless pit owner, Fern and her mother Wynne are forced to seek a new life in Cardiff. Whilst Wynne finds work in a factory, Fern attends the local school. But here she is bullied and is soon selling flowers outside Cardiff Central station to help make ends meet. When her mother is taken from her in an influenza epidemic, Fern has no one to protect her from her violent and possessive uncle. She longs to escape from the brutality and squalor around her and make something of herself. But with no money and her only friend away at sea, there seems little hope of her ever leaving her life of poverty behind, let alone finding the love she so yearns for...